In the pre-internet age, the best prank calls and underground videos were passed hand-to-hand on cassette and VHS tapes, creating a subculture among comedians and musicians who relied on them to punch up endless, aimless stretches of time on the road, backstage, or in hotel rooms.
The digital revolution has mostly wiped out those (formerly) viral methods of transmission, but it's also had the peculiar side effect of turning the material itself into artifact-worthy nostalgia. That helps explains why Chunklet Industries, the Atlanta-based purveyor of exquisitely snarky, aesthetically pleasing products such as Chunklet magazine (Full disclosure: I've written for Chunklet in the past) and numerous punk and indie-rock releases, decided to issue a long-out-of-print prank call as a luxurious but ultra-limited, one-sided vinyl 12-inch record in a deluxe Stoughton tip-on jacket.
The roughly seven-minute call, dubbed "The Corporate Office," is the work of comedian Bob Schriner, who has a history of brilliantly inspired pranks and stunts — including causing a media circus by stealing a Ronald McDonald statue and attributing it to the work of a vegan terrorist group, or showing up for makeovers on TV talk shows. His sociopathy dovetails nicely with the interests of Chunklet founder Henry Owings, who was first given Schriner's work by buddy John Schmersal (of the dearly departed Dayton, Ohio band Braniac) in 2002.
Owings, who tour-managed Patton Oswalt's Comedians of Comedy tour, was immediately taken with the call, which was recorded in 1999 as Schriner called a Tempe, Arizona Wendy's and posed as a manager from the chain's corporate office. Soon, Owings was leading his mix CDs with the call and disseminating it to bands who crashed at his house when they played Atlanta. That eventually afforded the subtle, slow-to-build, undeniably pathological prank call an intense cult following.
If you've never heard it, we're not going to give away the ending, but suffice to say it's more along the lines of the relentless, straight-faced psychological manipulation of Earles and Jensen than the wacky voices and emotional abuse of The Jerky Boys. The payoff is exquisite and rewards repeat listens, prompting Buzzfeed last month to wonder, "Is this the greatest prank call of all time?" READ MORE